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FAQs about Burrfishes, Porcupinefishes Disease Diagnosis

FAQs on Burrfish Disease: Burrfish Disease 1, Burrfish Disease 2, Burrfish Disease 3, Burrfish Disease 4, Burrfish Disease 5, Burrfish Disease ,
FAQs on Burrfish Disease Disease by Category: Environment, Nutrition, Social, Trauma, Pathogenic, Treatments 

Related Articles: Burrfishes/Porcupinefishes, Puffers in General, Puffer Care and Information, A Saltwater Puffer Primer: Big Pufferfish! by Mike Maddox, Pufferfish Dentistry By Kelly Jedlicki and Anthony Calfo, True Puffers, Freshwater Puffers, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Related FAQs: Diodontids 1, Diodontids 2, Diodontids 3, Burrfish Identification, Burrfish Behavior, Burrfish Compatibility, Burrfish Selection, Burrfish Systems, Burrfish Feeding, Burrfish Reproduction, Puffers in GeneralPuffer Selection, Puffer Behavior, Puffer Systems, Puffer Feeding, Puffer Disease, Puffer Dentistry, Puffer Reproduction, True Puffers, Freshwater to Brackish Puffers, Tobies/Sharpnose Puffers, Boxfishes

Umm; water quality? Tankmate issues? Feeding, nutrition matter/s?

Oh yes: READING!

 

Porcupine puffer emergency        3/12/17
Hi, I have a huge question...I have a porcupine puffer and I've had her for 14 years...she stops eating for days every once in a while.
<Not to worry; this is a "natural behavior". Please see here re:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
Normal . my problem now is she hasn't eaten for a week, did a water change thinking it was due which it was, 150 gallon nitrates 40 normal for her tank no ammonia salinity 1.023 . I know she is old I'm worried maybe she has
lockjaw, her mouth won't close all the way ,

<Yikes; not good>
but when I look inside it looks like something maybe stuck in there, she gets clams in shells, etc. I do feed her frozen krill but not everyday, she gets a lot of diff things....
<Good>
I tried tube feeding her but she isn't having it, and it looks soft in her moth like something blocked...hard to describe, here is a pic best I can get.
Stacy Burks
<Please read the above link AND:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BurrfshNutrDisF.htm
I WOULD supplement any offered foods AND the water directly as gone over...
Bob Fenner>

Re: Porcupine puffer emergency       3/14/17
So, I've read everything you said, and had already read that or knew it....she is still not eating and I have tried to force feed her and it all just comes back out...it's almost as if it is a soft bubble in her mouth ,
<This fleshy bit in your pic is natural... Sometimes puffers just DO refuse food... for weeks. This specimen doesn't appear overly thin. I would NOT handle/force feed the specimen (too stressful), but instead soak grass, ghost shrimp, smallish crayfish or such in a feeding supplement (HUFAs, Vitamins) as SeaChem's Appevite>
like she puffed up and some part inside her mouth won't deflate,
<Again; this is part of the puffers anatomy>

I'm attaching the best pic I can get. It's been like at least 2 weeks of no eating :( I think she knows what I'm trying to do when I get the tube and stick it in her mouth because she lets me do it but she can't bite down on it and she does not puff up ever when I try. The "bubble" is across her whole mouth inside ...I've even tried a turkey baster and she open her mouth really wide and let's me do it, then closed it all the way but then it goes back to half open...and again she doesn't puff up so that's what's getting me thinking she can't deflate inside somehow??
<More likely a B vitamin deficiency syndrome>

She had puffed up right before all this started im thinking now, for no apparent reason which is how she always puffed up when she did.im very stressed and with her being 14 years old, I think I'm stressing her out more..thoughts please...
<Yes to the added stress>
Stacy Burks
<Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer... hlth., nutr.    7/6/16
Hi - Im hoping you can help me with my little buddy. I have a porcupine puffer in my tank at work. I believe it is a 100 gallon tank. We have the puffer, a blue tang (aggressive) a small clown fish and a small damsel. Recently, my boss decided he wanted to add some fish to the tank. I was against it as I just saved the puffers life months prior and had to feed him with a syringe as he got lock jaw from a diet of freeze dried krill only. That is what our prior tank people who we bought him from told us was to be his only diet.
<Argh!>

After reading on the forums and through Google I determined a varied diet best so I make him a chutney of shrimp, mussels, clams, silversides and some clam juice for vitamins. Questioning the silversides after doing some reading.
<You should. Try other whole marine fishes or fillets. Oh, and good pellets; like Hikari and Spectrum brand; soaking foods in a supplement like SeaChem's "Vitality">
He was doing fine until the new butterfly fish and foxface were introduced.
A couple of weeks later the butterfly fish was missing and the tank smelled like rotten fish. I found the butterfly fish and removed him. He just happened to be under a rock that the puffer prefers to stay under.
The next day I noticed the puffers eyes covered in a white film. I called our tank people and suggested a water change and requested help for his eyes. They treated the tank with ACI tetracycline and tried giving him a dose of Dr G's antibacterial RX food which he spit back out. The other fish look fine so far and the puffer doesn't seem to have any
white spots that I can tell. If he does they are very tiny but he does seems to have stringy threads here and there coming from the top of his body.
<Any chance to sample these and look under a 'scope? Might be Trematodes... I'd treat w/ Prazi/quantel>
One eye looks better today but the other is worse. Much whiter with a spot in the middle. Breathing seems fine for now but hasn't eaten for 3 days.
Is this ich or a bacterial or parasitic infection and what can I do to help him?
<Can't tell what from the description>
He has hidden under the rock from the day we bought him. We have had him almost a year. He doesn't seem to like being around the other fish. He is very tame now and comes out twice daily like clockwork to greet me until this happened.
Im assuming adding the new fish to tank may have been enough to stress him and the butterfly fish dying didn't help.
<And perhaps introduced a pathogen inadvertently>
I worked diligently to save this little guys life once. Im upset this has happened. Can you help? SO appreciative!
<A well-resolved pic would help... I'd look for the Prazi. Bob Fenner>
Re: Porcupine Puffer       7/7/16

Thanks so much for responding. I do not have the means to look at a sample under a microscope.
<Ahh; perhaps a fish store nearby can be of assistance; or an aquatic vet., learning institution...>
Puffer looks better today. Foggy eyes not completely gone but every day they seem better. People who clean the tank treated water with API/Tetracycline and are now pulling it out via carbon system and are going to try something called Sulfaplex for bacterial and fungal infections. Are you familiar with Sulfaplex? Would the Prazi be better?
<Am familiar... not a fan of Sulfa drugs in marine systems. PLEASE learn to use WWM. The search tool, indices. Praziquantel is a vermifuge... sulfas are antimicrobials...
>
Could the dead butterfly fish in the tank for several days have caused puffer to get sick?
<Possibly; yes>
He didn't seem to exhibit the symptoms of excess ammonia though.
I have read that bad mussels/clams can cause Trematodes.
<Bad? No>

I buy puffers clams & mussels at Publix Supermarket. Wondering if I got a bad batch. Tank people also put a live oyster in tank a couple of weeks ago and problem started soon after. I noticed they took it out yesterday. Could
it have had a parasite?
<Doubtful>
Lastly - I feed the other fish Spectrum but the puffer doesn't go for it so I mix it in the chutney I give him and he eats it fine that way.
When you say feed "other whole marine fish/fillets" what type of fish are you referring to that would be better for than Silversides?
<... WWM. BobF>
Re: Porcupine Puffer       7/7/16
Can you tell me why you are not a fan of Sulfaplex?
<.... rarely efficacious in water treatments w/ marines>
I tried doing a search on it at wetwebmedia.com and it connects me to directly to Amazon.
<? Sulfa drugs:

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/results.html?cx=partner-pub-4522959445250520%3Ap7g47g81naq&cof=FORID%3A10&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=sulfa+drugs&sa=Search&siteurl=wetwebmedia.com%2F&ref=&ss=3657j1973747j13
People that service our tank want to use Sulfaplex today.
Puffer eating a little better. Eyes a little better but still slightly foggy but he has a very fine salting of white spots on body. Very tiny.
<READ on WWM re Diodontids, Crypt.... Don't write: READ>
They have done 2 water changes, treated water with API and pulled the API back out following day for a couple days. Another water change today and they want to add some Sulfaplex.

Porcupine puffer having a bad week       10/13/15
<Why seven MEGS of pix files, WHY?>
Hi crew.
I wish I was writing under happier circumstances but unfortunately my poor puffer has had a very rough week and I find myself looking to you guys for some help.
<Oh>
To start, I've had him roughly 6 months. No illnesses to mention. My water parameters in his new solitary 55gal hospital tank are:
Sal: 1.025
Nitrate: <20
Nitrite: 0
Ammonia: 0
pH: 8.3
79degrees
<This all is fine>
This problems all started 5 days ago when he was attacked by my (now rehomed) Dardanus Megistos. He nearly lost his entire right fin and had some other surface cuts. I'll include photos at the bottom for reference.
He seemed to be alright for the days following the attack, normal behaviour, swimming, resting, eating, breathing normal so I left him in the main tank with his buddies. Well three days in I noticed the cowfish picking at his wound and decided to set up a hospital tank for him to recover in peace. His new home is bare bones. Glass bottom. One fake log cave. Air stone. Powerhead. Heater. Side filter. One of those 'all included' kits from the store jobs. I set it up with 35% water from the
main tank and the rest fresh mix, like a big water change. He's been in there 24hours at this time. He's been fed once and he accepted it normally.
My main concern is his breathing appears to be very laboured. Mouth open.

Almost gasping. At a slight inclined angle, not sitting on the ground. At first I thought the side filter wasn't providing enough aeration so I put in the air stone to bump it up but he hasn't improved. I see no visible sign of illness on his body but he appears to be hiccupping? When I transferred him to his new tank I ushered him into a juice jug and to my knowledge, never let him come in contact with the air. He did partly puff for a brief second while in the jug but he quickly let it out and never
puffed again since.
Would you be concerned about this laboured breathing?
<Only a bit... likely still recovering from the Hermit and Hovercraft fish traumas>
What about treating his injuries?
<Oh; yes; the reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/SWPuffTraumaF.htm
and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BurrfshTraumaF.htm
Your advice is very much appreciated!!
I included a video, hopefully you're able to view it.
<Henceforth, PLEASE store someplace (e.g. YouTube) and just send along the link>
Your biggest fan,
Renee
<There's something there. Bob Fenner>


Re: Porcupine puffer having a bad week       10/13/15
Mr. Fenner,
<Hey Renee>
Thank you very much for your quick reply. I'll keep my eye on him and watch for infections. I've also blocked off my intakes a little better after reading those pages you linked me. Preventative measures!
<Perhaps a bit of Epsom>
Your site is truly amazing. The FAQs on Marine Treatment Tanks was everything I needed and more to make this possible!
Kind regards,
Renee
<And you, BobF>
Re: Porcupine puffer having a bad week        11/18/15

Good evening Bob,
<Good morrow now here Renee>
Just a quick follow up for you. The puffer took about a week to acclimatize to his new home.
<Mmm; about right>
He is loving his new digs! All his dead spines and skin shed off by week three. His fin joint took exactly a month to become useful, begin undulating properly again, and over the last three days his fin has made impressive gains in size!
<Yay!>
I'd expect it to be entirely healed in less than two weeks. What an incredible thing to witness. Why can't we regrow our parts? Haha
<Some day soon>
Thanks again for everything you and your amazing team provide!
<Welcome dear>
Goodnight,
Renee
<BobF>

Porcupine Puffer Collapsed Eye?        9/8/15
Hello, just stumbled onto this site as I was frantically searching for an answer to my problem. 2 days ago I noticed my Porcupine Puffer laying at the bottom of my tank breathing hard. I have moved the little guy into a separate tank and that's where he's been since then. He has not taken any food no matter how hard I try to get him to eat. I've been stumped as to
what is causing this, today I noticed his eyes seem to have collapsed?
<Photo?>
I've been browsing the internet to see what could be causing this but I have yet to find anything. I've tried taking a picture but it isn't clear from the picture what is going on with his eyes. Normally his eyes, the outer "shell" looks like this, ). Looking at his eyes now only a tiny bit of the center protrudes out, everything else is flat. There also seems to be nothing wrong with the muscles in his eye as he is able to pull off all his regular eye movements. His eyes have also lost that glittery sheen to them and his pupil is no longer circular in shape, instead it resembles a seed.
I'm going to keep looking to see what is going on but I was wondering if maybe one of you have seen this kind of situation before?
<Yes.... need data... what other life is in this system? What do you feed?
What changes recently? Water quality tests.... See WWM re other Diodontid health issues to gain an idea of the sorts of information we're looking for.
Bob Fenner>>
If so, what should I do, and will he ever recover? The only thing of importance that happened before I discovered my puffer laying at the bottom of my main tank was a water and filter clean/change 2 days prior. Thanks for your time.
Re: Porcupine Puffer Collapsed Eye?        9/8/15

<Is there a full moon? 4.5 megs of uncropped pic>
Hello again, thanks for your quick response, my main tank after water change parameters are Nitrites at 0-5.0 PPM, pH is 8.0, and Salinity is at 1.026. Other fish in this tank are a Blue Tang and a Comet Wrasse.
<All this is fine>
Current parameters for the Q tank that Puffer is in are comparable to my main tank.
I feed the puffer a mix of cuttlefish, Krill, and Clams.
<Bingo... search on WWM re Thiaminase poisoning.
BobF>
Usually he can't stop eating but he hasn't taken anything for the past 2 days. I've also managed to take a clear photo of whats happening to his eyes and have attached it.

 crop

Porcupine Puffer Lost Sight In Left Eye. Nutr. def. f'       8/5/15
Hello,
We have had our Porcupine Puffer since he was a baby. He is about 6 mos. old and was eating shrimp.
<Ummm; not a good diet. Have you read on WWM re Thiaminase poisoning?

Please do so>
Just recently he has had trouble eating food
<I can see where this is going... again>

and was freaking out every time we would try and feed him. He also started having trouble seeing the food.
<Yes>
He now seems to be blind in his left eye.
<Soon both>

The water quality is fine and he is the only fish in this tank. Is there anything we can give him to reverse the blindness? He is not really eating at all now because he can't see it well.
Thank you,
Sydney
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BurrfshNutrDisF.htm
and the linked files where you'll lead yourself. Bob Fenner>
Re: Porcupine Puffer Lost Sight In Left Eye      8/5/15

Thank you for replying so quickly.
He was a finicky eater from the start and wouldn't eat anything else.
I tried to follow your link, but is there any way to reverse this before he is totally blind?
<Keep reading. BobF>
Thank you,
Sydney

Porcupine puffer - holes in skin     12/12/14
Hi
<Peter>
I've noticed what looks like tiny holes on the porcupine puffer.
<Oh! Yes; looks to be... are these Flukes, Trematodes? Maybe aggregated body mucus... from? Perhaps Protozoans>
It looked a bit like ich, treated with eSHa Oodinex (ethacridine lactate, proflavine, malachite green, Methylene blue). It worked, ich disappeared, and it's been fine for a month now. But now i was feeding it and noticed what looks like scars? from ich. Its doing fine otherwise. Any ideas?
Cheers
Peter
<Could be scars, scarring.... from the parasites, and/or the medicine exposure. I would like you to do a pH adjusted freshwater dip/bath to see if these fall off... take a look at them under a scope... Perhaps a one-time dosing of Prazi(quantel) (read on WWM re first please) IF worms.
Bob Fenner>

Puffer air bubble?     4/23/12
Hi, Based on scouring your FAQs on puffers, I think my puffer fish (who I've had for six years now) has an air bubble.
<Mmm, much more wrong here... the "crew cut tang" as well show signs of poor environmental stress and mal-nutrition>

I'm not sure though since most of the FAQs suggest that a puffer can't survive very long with an air bubble, and mine has endured this problem for about 3-4 months now. My puffer has trouble swimming upright, and often sits on the ground upside down now.  I've tried gently rubbing his belly but he always puffs immediately. Based on looking at the attached pics, what do you think?  Is it an air bubble?  Any remedies you would recommend?
Thanks, Ethan from Massachusetts
<... re-read re Burrfish and Zebrasoma diseases... these fishes are doomed otherwise. Bob Fenner>

porcupine puffer, env., fdg./rdg.       3/14/12
I have a porcupine puffer for about year now.  We recently went on a trip for three days and two nights.  While gone we had some complications with our nitrate levels
<At?>

 because of the care givers.  The fish tank light was on for the whole time and we run a t8 six bulbs.  We have lost four of our fish
<?!>

 and the puffer is not eating any food.  This has never been a problem for him before we feed him shrimp nightly. 
<Very poor...>

The puffer is now running into the side of glass, puffing up when turn the lights on or off, swims in circles, and drags his tail or mouth on the gravel.  Do you have any suggestions on what this could be and how to treat him.
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/burrfishfdgfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Porc Puffer sore 10/3/09
Hey guys,
Thanks again for all the help you have given me. I have what may be a really stupid question. I have a 125 FOWLR that has 1 Porc puffer, 1 dog face, 1 Rabbitfish, 1 flame hawk, 1 harlequin tusk, and red legged hermit crabs.
Water parameters, are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 0 nitrates, salinity is 1.021
<... too low>

, temp 80.
Not sure the PH at the moment....I use RO water along with Prime.
Wet/Dry filter
<Often problematic in overdriving nitrification... e.g., do you have excess nitrate?>

with an in-sump protein skimmer. Both filter and skimmer made for 300 gallons.
(Planning an upgrade next year). Anyway, not that that really matters, I believe my Porc puffer ran into some live rock as he has a hole in his face above his upper lip and part of his lip looks a little rough. The hole isn't really deep and it looks like he ran into some rock. My LFS came out last night to take a look at
him and said to just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get bigger but he agreed with my assessment that it doesn't look like he was bitten as much as he ran into something.
I don't have my moonlighting up yet so the tank is pretty black at night. Could this have caused him to run into something?
<A probable possibility. Good to have some "light" on in the room at night...>
I do not feed live food that he has to chase around. He is eating and acting normal but being the "new kid on the block" I currently am with marine species I'm just wondering if fish wounds can get infected and what they would look like.
I was also told by my LFS that he seemed a little skinny (concave belly), especially compared to my other fishes. He is very slow when coming to his food so I will be starting to feed him more after the other guys get their fill.
<Good plan>
I tried this last night after my LFS guy left and he did fill up on Mysis shrimp so his belly wasn't a pot belly but it was flat and not concave.
The other fishes had already eaten all they wanted from the initial feeding so they pretty much left the new food alone. Could this possibly be a sign of a vision problem?
<Another likely speculation>
Thanks for all your help.
<You have read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/burrfishdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above? Bob Fenner>
Re: Porc Puffer sore / message recall   - 10/05/2009

Nah, that's okay. I was just thinking that it was too stupid to post.
<Au contraire Jill.... valuable experiences to relate, help others>
I watched the Porc puffer a lot this weekend. He doesn't seem aggressive enough during feedings. He will start to wander towards a bit of food but if any of the other fishes act like they are going for it, he just backs up and wanders away. He does sleep with his nose stuffed in about a 2 inch crevice in my LR. Might explain the sore.
<Ah yes>

Over feeding the tank this weekend to make sure he is getting his fill which, I realize is going to increase my water changes and filter pad changes dramatically. At least till I can get him up to snuff weight wise. I am working on "petting" him to get used to my hand so hopefully I can start hand feeding him separately in the long run.
<Try a "feeding stick" with larger food items (Krill is a fave) attached to "hand feed" the Puffer>

As far as excess nitrate, yes I did have that problem and this weekend I purchased something to put in my filter to help eliminate that problem.
I don't recall at the moment but it's some sort of light weight rock.
<Mmm, not Zeolite I hope/trust. These don't work in saltwater...>
I am thinking of employing a DSB in my sump along with some macroalgae.
Do you think that would help with the nitrate issue?
<Should greatly help>
Still doing research on that because I'm having problems wrapping my brain around the workings of it and all.
<Take your time here... Are simple concepts once grasped...>
I just had my canopy installed along with 2 day lights and 2 actinic, once again, not sure of any kinds as my LFS installed the lights before delivering my canopy. I feel the actinic are too bright, so I will be removing one so that one side of my tank will be a little darker then the other.
<Good>
After reading all the FAQs on puffer diseases, I have started to add some iodide to the water. I have a basic test kit for ammonia, nitrites, nitrate, calcium, pH, phosphate ....Do they have test kits for minerals and such too?
<For some types, yes>
I don't like to add any more supplements to the tank then I have too. What is the best way to go about increasing the salinity?
<Slowly add more saline water with changes, over time>
I top off with fresh water at the moment but maybe I should switch to topping off with my pre-made salt water until the salinity increases?
<Good idea>
I thought about increasing the salt when I did my 25% water change this week but I chickened out.
I thought it might be too drastic a change all at once.
<Mmm, not to worry. If not more than a thousandth in a day, no big deal.
Many reef fishes pass through very freshwater at times... rain, run-off from land...>
I have lots more FAQ's reading to do and I need to start taking notes, I just don't retain info like I used to.
<I do definitely relate>
You guys are such a blessing. Thank you so much for all your help.
Jill
<Welcome. BobF>

Skinny Porcupine Puffer... Stunted due to... Env. and?  -- 02/19/09 Hi, <Chris> I have a porcupine puffer (Diodon holacanthus) and I've had her for about 2 years now and she is about 3-4 inches long at this point. <... small> I can't help but notice that she is far thinner than most other fish of her species that I've seen (online, in pet stores and at friends' houses). Instead of being fuller with a slight taper towards the tail, she has a distinct tear-drop shape with a really skinny body. <Mmmm> I feed her 2 cubes of frozen food every other day and that food is everything from Emerald Entre to Marine Cuisine and Brine Shrimp. Is there something she is missing in her diet that is keeping her from growing fatter? <Possibly... or perhaps there's summat else at work here... Internal parasites, genetic, behavioral issues, even aspects of environment, water quality...> Below is the information about my tank and various levels. 55 Gallon <Too small eventually... and this could be a source/factor... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GrwLmtChems.htm > with a salinity of 1.020. <Too low... also a poss. influence> Nitrites and Alkalinity are in the safe range according to my test strips and Ammonia is less than 0.25 <Must be zero... See WWM re tests... here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mtstmethds.htm and the linked files above> while the Nitrites are high at 80-160. <Nitrates... not NO2... WAY too high... def. a factor... http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm  and the linked files above.> Thanks <There may be others... but the environment here is definitely faulty. Bob Fenner>

I need help! Diodontid hlth., no data or reading   4/18/08 I have a new Burr fish puffer. He has only been here for 48 hours and suddenly he has a bald belly he looked a little skinny before but I thought with a little tlc I could turn him around. What do I do? I don't think he has or had ick. I do not have a QT, and I have alot <... no such word> of other fish. HELP! Thanks Jen <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm  the linked files above... on Systems, Feeding... Bob Fenner>

Porcupine Puffer... sys. trouble  -- 4/12/08 Hi WWM Crew, <Robbie> I've been reading the site for the better part of the day and decided to write you in case I missed something. I've had a porcupine puffer (Puffy) for about 5 years. He was moved into a 240 gal tank about 6 months ago. All fish tank includes 3 triggers (Bursa, Picasso, Niger), <Mmmm> Foxface, 8 damsels, flame hawk. Last weekend Puffy started hiding in the cave and stopped coming out for food around Monday or Tuesday this week. Last Sunday I lost a mono. This past Monday I lost the other 2 monos. I had the water checked by a Santa Monica Aquarium shop and my "fish guy". Both found the tank elements to be perfect - except salt was a bit low. <What brand? How low?> Odd that the Monos - a brackwater fish died from low salt though. <Not likely> The salt was brought back to normal but Puffy did not improve. Today he came out of his cave and was found floating at the top of one side of the tank. I've tried feeding him peas (frozen, boiled, then skin removed) but he won't take them. <Not surprising> He had air in him earlier but my fish guy gently held and rubbed the belly and we did see air come out, about 4 hours ago. About 1 hour ago a ton of white stuff came shooting out of his mouth. Where he was swimming erratically earlier he is now "bobbing" in the upper 1/4 of the tank and barely breathing. He occasionally puffs in some water and eventually lets it out it appears. But he just "bobs" or sinks a bit and then floats back up. There is no sign of ick or other external disease. <Not pathogenic at least...> However, within the last few hours the edges of his fins have become a milky white. <Very bad... stress signs> On another note, my Foxface is having issues -- although I am more concerned about Puffy. The Foxface is swimming/bobbing in the same area of the tank. He usually is down at the bottom picking for poop. Now his mouth is just moving rapidly as he floats around in the 1/4 top section of the tank. Puffy to me is the equivalent of a dog to someone else. Its killing me to see him in pain and unable to do anything. Any idea what is going on? Thanks Robbie <Some form of overt chronic poisoning is my best guess... The usual S.O.P of massive water change/s, spiffing up your skimmer/ing, the use of chemical filtrant/s, possibly a look into the use of ozone... Something/s amiss here... could be electrical, dissolved gas, an endogenous microbial (crash) syndrome... But changing out water/dilution, better aeration/filtration will definitely help. The puffer though... is likely not going to make it. Bob Fenner> As an update to this. Hour and a half later Puff is now at the bottom of the tank and looks fatter in the back than normal. He is not using any of his fins, his mouth is just open, he is darker in color, and he is breathing slowly. <We'll see... BobF>
Re: Porcupine Puffer.  - 04/14/08
Hey Bob, Thanks for the response. He didn't make it :,( Robbie <I do hope you are executing against a plan to save the rest of your livestock. BobF>
Re: Porcupine Puffer.  - 04/14/08
Working on it. The problem is finding the problem. The puffer is the only one that showed signs of stress. The monos just "dropped dead". I literally watched one start acting odd and die in an hour. All are eating, all look and appear healthy. I'm no pro like you, but have had fish for about 10 years. Never experienced anything like this. I'm used to seeing the disease on the fish or see the chemical imbalance when I test. I am stumped. <Me too... thus the very general input our first correspondence... I would at least "complex" your system by adding a DSB, macroalgal culture, perhaps an ozonizer... B>
Re: Porcupine Puffer.  - 04/14/08
Bob, <Rob> One thing we (me and fish maintenance guy) noticed fairly recently is this film on top of the water. <Bad... need to "wick" off, and provide for removal... from... food/s?> I have a center column with flow valves on either side. Only the left side has this "film" on top of the water. Its not dust but its this light brown color. No idea where its coming from or what is causing it. Maybe this has something to do with my fish dying? Robbie <Very likely so... can prevent oxygen from getting into solution... would explain much here in terms of who is dying first. Bob Fenner>
Re: Porcupine Puffer dis., and Mono sel.  -- 4/15/08
Hi Bob, <Neale> Re: the guy with the sick Diodon; if I'm reading the question right  and the "monos" that died are Monodactylus spp., then your observation of oxygen and the scum on the surface of the tank could be right on the money. While Monodactylus are basically bullet proof in terms of water chemistry issues, they are unbelievably sensitive to low oxygen tensions. Perhaps what you'd expect from a fish that lives in the surf zone and shallow coastal seas. <Yes... my inference as well> > If the fish are feeding fine one moment, then stressed/dead the next,  I'd be wary that the food I was adding was too oily, and those oils collecting on the surface of the water as a film. Usually only a problem if there's insufficient agitation of the water. A skimmer would obviously help, and is even recommended at SG 1.010 when keeping Monodactylus, let alone in a marine setting. But certain frozen foods as well as oil-rich dried foods can cause a similar scum to form. <Agreed all the way around> Incidentally, this oxygen issue with Monodactylus is one reason I recommend against buying mature specimens. They don't "travel" well. Cheers, Neale <Interesting and noteworthy. Will post to both categories. Cheers, BobF>

Pufferfish Fading 3-18-08 Hi, We have had a porcupine puffer fish (3 in.) for a month. This is our first brackish system and there are no other fish in our 30 gallon tank. <I am hoping that this is a Green Spotted Pufferfish and not a Porcupine Puffer. Does he have little black spots all over his body?> Our filter system does 250-300 gallons/hour, it can go up to 480 gal/hr. We were told to do a 20% water change once/month. <I would up this to about twice a week if you are doing 20% or do 50% once a month.> My husband did one last night but up until know he has been adding water because of evaporation & checking the salinity. Puffy seems to losing its color, he was a yellow color and now seems to be a pale yellow/white-ish color. <Did your husband bring the temperature up to match that of the tank when changing the water?> I read about Ich but I can't tell if he has it. <Doubtful, you would see white specks all over his body. It is easy to notice.> He is also not interested in eating krill, we feed once/day. <I would feed him once every 2-3 days seeing as he is fairly large. Also instead of krill which when fed alone doesn't present much nutritional value to a puffer, I suggest getting some mussels, clams, snails and other crunchy foods that puffers enjoy. This food also helps wear down the teeth naturally so they do not become overgrown, making it difficult for the puffer to eat or forcing you to do dentistry on him. Frozen shellfish are fine as long as they are defrosted completely in the water from the tank before feeding.> I can't tell if his breathing is labored. Finally, he has a light red/pink colored spot on top approximately half inch in diameter on top three-quarters down from the head & a small red dot. It looks like he might be rubbing himself & its irritated. <This is possibly a wound from a scratch or a bite mark that is healing. I would get some Melafix to help treat that.> We've seen him squeeze behind the filter. He has happy, comes to see us for feeding. He still seems kind of happy but is not eating. I read that they can be sensitive to ammonia & nitrates so I'm going to pick up an ammonia test kit tomorrow. <Get a test kit that includes Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrites tests as these are your most critical when it comes to puffers. Most likely he was a little aggravated from the water change and if he still seems happy I doubt there is anything to worry about. Puffers can change colors depending on moods. If you do notice that he is lethargic or has a very black belly then something is wrong. I wouldn't worry about him not eating, he doesn't have to feed everyday.> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <If you can, get back to me on your water parameters and a positive ID on Puffy. A picture would be great if you can take one.> Thanks <No problem! --Yunachin> Kim
Re: Pufferfish Fading  3-18-08
Hi, Thank you for all your advice! He's definitely a porcupine puffer fish. He looks like the images on Google. So what I've found out after visiting 3 pet stores yesterday is that I needed to get the tank cycling to ensure proper nitrite levels. <Not just nitrites but everything in between.> We didn't know this when we started. So when we started the tank, we got the salinity stable (2 weeks) then got the puffer fish (additional 3-4 weeks). Feel free to correct me if I misunderstand anything, like I said before this is our first brackish system ? <You don't want to use the term 'brackish' as that is a lower level than marine, usually at a salinity of 1.004-1.016, IMO.> Right now our tank is in the nitrate phase & as expected our nitrates are high, pH low 7.5, ammonia OK. <Use of a product called Prime will help ease this.> I believe the loss of color in our puffer is because he's stressed because they are very sensitive to pH changes & not the best fish to use to start a salt water tank :( <All fish are going to be sensitive to fluctuations in Ph, I would worry about the Nitrite levels first as these will affect him the most negatively.> He is the only fish in the tank and the spot is not a spot it's actually a brick red colored stuff growing on him, the guy at the pet store said that it sounds like a bacteria, not surprising to him because our pH was low. <Once again, low Ph is not your problem. 7.4 is not bad at all and can be tolerated by the puffer. The growth could be bacterial and treating it with erythromycin is the way to go.> I have started penicillin treatment & added Cycle (good bacteria to help break down the ammonia & nitrates). I removed the carbon filter so the carbon will not absorb the medication. <Good. When this is all said and done, make sure to do some hefty water changes. Cycle though; I am not a fan of. If it is not stored properly it loses all of its beneficial properties. This could all occur even before it comes into your hands so I always say do a fishless cycle, it's safer and efficient. There is an article about it on www.thepufferforum.com> I was also told to slowly raise the pH of the tank. So I bought a buffer and added 1 treatment to the tank. The instructions said it can take 2 days for the pH to stabilize so I will check it tonight (that makes it 24 hr). I'm not sure what slowly means, hours? Days? The buffer instructions said I should add supplements Calcium & trace minerals? Suggestions? <Instead of adding buffers and chemicals and everything else, you can add crushed coral, aragonite or even sea shells and it will naturally regulate your tank without any side effects. I would go this route.> I'm under the impression that I should not do any water changes until after antibiotic treatment which will take 4 days. Should I do one after that or wait until the tank's ammonia & nitrate levels are 0 & some nitrites? If I should do a water change, how much? Any advice on water changes would be appreciated. <I would do a water change after the antibiotic treatment is through. I would do 50% on day one, 20% on day two then wait a day and do another 20% on day 4. I would then do 30-40% every two weeks.> Also, my husband was concerned about getting the water up to temperature, so he ended up not doing the water change but we are aware of that. <Adding a heater to the bucket of water for about 20-30 minutes will warm it right up.> Is 2-3 inches large for a porcupine pufferfish? I was told that they can get even bigger & the tank we have is not an ideal tank. Recommended tank size is 75 gallon minimum. <These puffers have been known to grow to 18 inches in the wild and I have had the pleasure of seeing large ones similar to this is person. They will get large though and a 100 gallon is recommended. Though at 3 inches right now your tank would be fine. You will have to work on a larger tank in the future though.> I was told this could also be stressing the puffer out. How often should I feed him? <Every other day would be sufficient.> How many days can he go without eating? It's been 3 days right now. What foods are more appealing to a sick puffy? You can try a piece of krill soaked in garlic if you do not have any fresh shrimp or mussel on hand. Garlic is an appetite enhancer and will tempt him to eat, but don't fret if he doesn't yet as he is under treatment.> If all goes well I will start getting him some mussels, snails, clams. Should I buy this from a pet store or supermarket? How often should I give him these? <Market or pet store will be fine. I often find purchasing them frozen then I can pull them out and defrost them as needed. Every other day will be fine with these as well, even every three days will be perfect.> When should I expect to see the bacteria clear up and if get the tank conditions under control how fast should I see the puffer recover? <It all depends on how positively he responds to the medicine. He should start to look up in the next 4 days or so. Do not add any more additives or chemicals to your tank though. Let these medicines run their course, get some aragonite/crushed coral, and do your water changes when it is all said and done. In the meanwhile check out this link and work your way through the information on porcupine puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diodontpuffers.htm; It will help with any other questions you may have. > Thanks Your website is priceless. <You're welcome. Good Luck. Keep me posted on Puffy's condition.^_^> Kim

Puffer Problem  12/20/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Our porcupine puffer was purchased approx. two weeks ago and was fine for a week. <Was he placed into a fully cycled tank?> Now he has white over his eyes and appears to be blind. He is not eating and is lethargic. He is breathing shallow and doesn't even attempt to escape upon being touched. We treated him with a freshwater dip for the Ich but are not seeing improvements. Help!!!! <What Ich?  Ich cannot be treated with 1 FW dip.  Please read: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4576 Please post your water parameters: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH.  ~PP>

Porcupine Puffers... a paucity of useful info. re dis.  - 11/11/06 I have two porcupine puffers purchased at the same time <When?> but housed in different aquariums, both exhibiting the same symptoms, one beginning yesterday, the other today.  They have been eating well, seem to have adjusted, then developed a darkening and swelling of the skin, which seems to be spreading quickly.  Now lethargic and not eating, within 24 hours of onset of symptoms.  Treating with PimaFix and oral penicillin. <Neither likely useful...>   Do you know what this is or what I can do? <Time to "punt"... look to root causes... Highly likely (both) environmental... What water quality? Filtration to spiff up?... Bob Fenner> Thanks so much!
Re: porcupine puffer?   11/15/06
thank you , yeah I know he will out grow it but I'm just going to start with a 2-3 inch for now then go to a 200 gallon maybe and thanks for helping me. <Mmm, Hotay! BobF>

Puffer using one gill  - 04/15/06 Hello WWM, <Irene> I have read on your web site that sometimes when a fish is using one gill, that this is normal behavior;  it will go away in time.  I have also read that this could be a sign of gill flukes.  This is my situation: <Yes, it can be either or....> I have an 80 gallon tank.  Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0, pH is 8.3, temp is 78 and Nitrate is 10.  I have a 4" Porcupine Puffer, a 12" Snowflake Eel and a 4" Sailfin Tang.  I purposely keep the stock low to maximize growing space for each fish and I know in time the puffer will need a larger tank of her own. <This is probably too much now, I would begin the 125 or larger tank search and saving now.> For the past day, my porcupine puffer breathes with one gill about 95% of the time.  She uses the left gill only rarely.  She does not breath heavily and there is no sign of scratching.  She swims mainly within the bottom third of the tank and seems active enough, especially in the morning and at night. <Eating fine and no other issues?> Please tell me that my fish is just exhibiting normal behavior.  Is this one gill thing common among puffers?  I plan to watch her carefully for any improvements and hope that she is just doing something funny but normal. <Not normal, but does happen sometimes.  may be a sign of aggression on the tangs part and or stress related.  Keep watching the puffer to see if it improves or degrades.> Thanks, Irene <Justin (Jager)>
Re: puffer using one gill
  4/18/06 My porcupine puffer is breathing with both gills now.  I do believe it was stress related.  I recently moved him from one tank to another.   <Great to hear!> The Sailfin Tang is not bothering the puffer.  However, the Tang does have a history of aggression with a Regal Blue Tang.  Both Tangs live in separate aquaria now.  (I have two 80 gallon tanks).   <Sounds like a good deal> I have a question about Miracle Mud.  I have seen it used in refugiums. <Yes, an alternative to just DSB refugiums.> My question is can a small bowl of the mud (kept separately in the bowl) be placed in a corner of the main aquarium for nutrient and water conditioning?  Or would the mud spread all over the tank?   <Depends on water flow through the area where you'd be placing it.  I'm really not sure you'll get the results you're looking for with this though.  There wouldn't be too much water flow through the mud, which is how it counts, so I believe it would just be a waste of time/money.  Have a good one, Jen S.> Irene

Porc Puffer not eating, lack of info...  1/13/06 We need your help. <<I will try>>  My son has a saltwater fish tank in his house <<What size?>>...has had it for several years...all fish are healthy.<<A list of inhabitants would be helpful>>   Except--his porcupine puffer fish has suddenly stopped eating.   It comes to the top of the tank, all excited, wanting to eat and then just seems to "jab" at the food.   It has always had a good appetite.    He has been eating krill.   It's so heartbreaking.    At times it seems to head to the bottom corner of the tank and gasp a little.     Anything we can do? <<What are the readings for Ammonia, nitrItes, nitrAtes and pH in this tank? Your son's puffer, Diodon Holocanthus, can grow to 19" and will need a tank of at least 125 gallons at maturity.  Does he show signs of trying to open his mouth and is not able to?  An all krill diet has been linked to 'lock jaw'.  Essentially, your puffer needs a more varied diet, and probably larger quarters.  Often, an iodine supplement will ease the lock jaw enough to facilitate better feeding.  Please do get back to us regarding the questions above. Lisa>> Thank you!

Bridled Burrfish I have a full grown bridled Burrfish. In the past few days, his antenna and some of his spines/burrs seem to be deteriorating or eroding. The brown skin came off first and he now has white fleshy exposed parts on the tips. The tank levels are okay. I was wondering if this is natural to shed his antenna and burrs, like the longhorn cowfish does? Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated. <Not natural... and sorry this response is so late (have been away). Do immediately check your water quality, and if at all possible move this animal to a separate tank (quarantine, treatment)... For observation, isolation. It may have a parasitic infestation, a nutritional deficiency, or there may well be something anomalous about your water. If you can't move the animal, do make a substantial water change (25%), be ready to do others in succeeding days and watch for signs of stress on your other livestock. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Lauren

Sick puffer Hi, Thanks for responding.   <our pleasure> My puffer is a porcupine puffer and he has been ill for approx. 6 weeks. I tried to treat him with medicines in my tank, but nothing worked so I took him to my pet store where they kept him in a hospital tank for approx. 3 weeks treating him with Maracyn 2.  One eye cleared up some, but the other eye did not respond. <likely from natural healing... little or no help from the antibiotic> He is now back in my 125 gallon tank with a yellow tang and a blue damsel.  There are no other fish in there, only 100 lbs. of live rock.  He is eating okay, but it is difficult watching him run into everything.  Water quality and parameters are right on in both my tank and the hospital tank, as well as temperature. <good to hear> I am also concerned about the effectiveness of treating such a large tank or would it be necessary to remove him to another tank?   <agreed... almost never treat the display... does more harm than good. Best to remove to a quite QT tank> I hope you can help. Thanks for being there to ask questions about.  It is a great relief. Leanne <I am still very doubtful that this is pathogenic at all... it is clearly not a parasite, and most any bacteria would have waned or flourished  after such a long time. Compound that by the very sensitive nature of puffer eyes (our archives here are filled with puffer eye FAQs) and the nature of the ailment. With that said... if we are sure it is not water quality or parasite, I'm wondering if the fish has been held captive long enough to show this symptom as an expression of a dietary deficiency? Has this puffers diet been restricted to just 2 or 3 items? Less? Just a few months on silversides or feeder fish or krill almost to exclusion causes such symptoms and deficiencies. Hmmm... do consider and send us a clear picture if you can. What big city do you live near too? I'm wondering if we cannot put you in touch with specialists in a local aquarium club or friends of ours across the nation. Best regards, Anthony>

Porcupine Puffer with swollen spot... I've had my porcupine puffer for about a month, and he has been doing great. This morning when I got up and turned the light on for the tank I noticed he had a swollen part on his left side ... up towards his back. It has made it so that he can't use his top fin. I'm wondering if he may have swallowed some air during the night or something. <Perhaps... but much more likely a resultant symptom from the collection, handling processes from the wild...> Yesterday at feeding he had an altercation with an eel over some food but I don't think he got bit. He seemed fine after the feeding. <Hmm> What should I do with him??? <Really "nothing" other than the "usual" of providing consistent, high quality water, a stable environment, food... These fishes (puffers in general) are quite "changeable", "adaptable" but do go through marked changes in behavior (feeding, sitting about, swimming...). Please read over the various "Puffer FAQs" posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for much more here... that will inform you, place your mind at rest. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help, Nathan Best
Re: Porcupine Puffer with swollen spot...
Thanks for the quick reply. I've looked over the FAQ, but didn't see anything quite like this. I just got finished feeding everyone, and he ate fine ... but it looks like the swollen part got a little bigger ... could it be food???  <No, very unlikely.> His color and everything seems ok ... he's just struggling to keep from floating to the top of the tank. <Not uncommon... resultant as previously stated...> Thanks, Nathan Best <Bob Fenner>

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